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I have this huge (paper plate sized) hornets' (I think they are hornets) nest. The property has many vole holes and is about 30-40 feet from our drinking well.

What is the most appropriate way to handle this? My concerns are escape passages / tunnels and chemicals making their way to our drinking water. We also have a dog who plays in that yard.

Image of Nest Image of Nest Close up

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  • That's a really ugly underground Yellow Jacket Hornet nest. The raccoons around here go for the smaller ones and clean them out, but this one would be a bit much for them to take on. Aug 16 '14 at 23:34
  • Eesh. With a nest that big you might want to consider joining them:)
    – user23534
    Aug 17 '14 at 4:00
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Yellow Jacket Hornet nests are seasonal in nature so you can try one of several methods.

  1. Wait it out till fall or winter and dig the nest out once the colony has died. Fix the terrain so there is no ground void that can be used to reestablish a nest next year.

  2. Try a bit faster approach, wait till after dark and dust the nest with a powder of boric acid and pyrethrin which will take time to be disbursed in the nest by the hornets and may take a couple of applications. The combination should be bio-safe as the boric acid will bind in the soil before getting down to the water table. Avoid getting stung, don't shine any lights directly into the opening. A wetter, messier solution is mint oil mixed in a hot, soapy water solution sprayed over as much of the nest as you can get at, but damp solutions don't always work as well.

  3. Fastest, have a professional use a metered amount of Sevin, Deltamethrin or similar dust insecticide accurately dispensed into the nest. Have them use the lest likely to contaminate ground water.

enter image description here

University of Idaho document with underground nest cross-section

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  • I ended up trying option 2. And it works. (the buggers).
    – Sukima
    Aug 18 '14 at 18:19
  • Glad to hear it. I've had run-ins with Yellow Jackets, had a sting-allergic friend throw a rock at a hollow oak. I was the sacrificial target as I was standing next to the thing when he decided to be smart. He got one sting, I had two get under my shirt and leave a trail. They sting till they get out, run out of venom or get squashed. Afterwards, we had a little talk about where hornets nest and the intelligence of not poking a bear with a sharp stick, or disturbing a hornet's nest. Aug 18 '14 at 20:50
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I think what you have there are "ground bees", and if they're anything like the ones here, they have a REALLY BAD attitude about disturbances.

I think if I found one of those thirty feet from my well, I'd have a dump truck deliver about a full yard of sand or topsoil, dropping it directly on top of that nest. I'd inform the truck driver about what's going on so he could unlatch the dropgate far away from the nest, then guide the truck (with windows closed) until it was backed up such that the dropgate was directly above the nest, then dump the load.

My second choice would be gas, and my weapon of choice would be argon (readily available in aerosol-type cans under the brand name "bloxygen").

Third choice would be carbon monoxide from a lawn-mower engine's exhaust.

Fourth choice would be a shop-vac.

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  • Speaking of lawnmower, maybe he could somehow move a lawnmower over the nest (blades a spinnin') and allow the lawnmower to chop them to pieces as they fly into the blades.
    – user56530
    Jul 27 '16 at 2:09

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